Native Americans were the first to settle in the beautiful state of Kentucky. This is where the Indian name Kentucky comes from - it is derived the the Cherokee name for the area which lies south of the Ohio River. Although historians dispute the Cherokee name it is thought to mean 'meadowland.' Thus, Kentucky earned the nickname of the 'Bluegrass State.'
Many people are not aware that in late 1811 and early 1812 Western Kentucky received heavy damage following a series of earthquakes. These quakes were referred to as the 'New Madrid earthquake.' This area recorded the largest earthquake in the contiguous United States. The quakes actually changed the course of the Mississippi River.
Although Kentucky was mostly rural the growth of commerce brought about railroads and steamships and this saw Louisville and Lexington to become heavily populated. During the beginning of the 20th century coal became a major industry. The state was hit hard when the Great Depression arrived. The state suffered from severe unemployment and there was little growth in Kentucky. However, the New Deal brought about many changes in the infrastructure. This included the creation of roads, electricity in the rural areas, new telephone lines along with the construction of the Kentucky Dam.
World War ll brought about more industry. It also led to the expansion of the famous Fort Knox. Louisville became noted for artificial rubber and became the world's leader in production. The war brought about a production of over 100,000 jeeps that were manufactured in the state.
Today Kentucky offers open arms to visitors. Thousands of tourists flock to the state each year to visit a variety of attractions. One of these is the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The park is located in the southeastern part of the state and extends into the Cumberland Mountains. Naturally, visitors flock to the most important passage which is known as the Cumberland Gap. This was originally used as a route the Indians used. The Pinnacle Overview, which is at an elevation of 2460 feet, offers amazing views of the hills as well as the gap. There is also a popular hike visitors enjoy which takes them to the Hensley Settlement. This is a preserved country township.
Kentucky also offers the Daniel Boone National Forest. The area was created by the forces of wind and water. This also caused some amazing, yet bizarre rock formations. The Red River surges through a few miles north. Tourists enjoy the fishing as well as the scenic beauty offered in the area. Another amazing attraction is Shaker Village. This is an open-air museum with more than 30 buildings. This illustrates the way of life of the celibate sect of Shakers. It is located north of Harrodsburg. Aside from houses and an extensive collection of Shaker furniture there is also a variety of demonstations such as weaving, spinning, and broom making.
Most everyone has heard of the annual Kentucky Derby. The famous horse race is held at the Kentucky Horse Park. This is located 10 miles north of Lexington. The park offers a visitor center along with a museum. Aside from a walk through the park there is a variety of offerings for the tourist. Visitors to Louisville have a great assortment of attractions to visit including the Muhammad Ali Center and the Louisville Slugger Museum. Of course, a visit to Kentucky is not complete without a visit to the famous Mammoth Cave National Park.
Kentucky also offers a load of area events and customs. One of these is Francisco's Farm Arts Festivals which is held at Midway College. The event is generally held near the end of June and offers a variety of artists. The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival is another popular event with free performances in the summer. It is held in Central Park in Old Louisville.
One of the customs that visitors need to learn is that the state does not move fast - people need to learn to wait and be patient. Visitors also need to respect the motto which is 'United we stand, divided we fall.' Also everyone should respect the state seal which is that of Daniel Boone and Henry Clay joining hands in unity.